Less than two weeks after being stripped of its license in London, Uber has gone on a charm offensive to win it back.
LONDON — Less than two weeks after being stripped of its license in London, Uber has gone on a charm offensive to win it back.
The company’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, flew to the British capital, its biggest European market, to hold talks with the city’s transport chief on Tuesday.
After the meeting, Khosrowshahi tweeted a picture of himself with more than a dozen smiling Uber drivers, writing, “Determined to make things right in this great city!”
There had been much hype before the talks, but neither side gave much away.
Uber and Transport for London, which oversees much of the city’s public transport system, issued separate statements after the meeting between Khosrowshahi and Mike Brown, London’s transport commissioner. Both described the talks as “constructive” and said they would have further discussions in “the coming weeks.”
The push to win back London is part of a wider effort by the company to move past the often-combative style of co-founder and former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick and change Uber’s reputation from ruthless disrupter to responsible corporate citizen.
No one expects a quick resolution to the dispute between Uber and Transport for London.
The regulator revoked Uber’s taxi license last month, citing an array of issues in deciding that the company was not “fit and proper” to operate in the city. Uber’s appeal of the ban could take months to resolve, and even if the company lost a second appeal, it could take the case to the highest court in the country. It can continue to operate in London throughout that process.
In the meantime, the ruling has highlighted divisions within the city.
Critics are led chiefly by London’s black-cab drivers. They must earn their licenses by memorizing 100,000 landmarks across 25,000 streets in London, an extremely difficult test known as The Knowledge. They argue Uber drivers are underregulated and that the service systematically underprices competitors to win customers.
Supporters of Uber, however, are plentiful. The company has garnered nearly 850,000 signatures for a Change.org petition called “Save Your Uber in London.” Proponents argue satellite navigation has rendered the Knowledge obsolete, that black cabs are too expensive, and that Uber’s detailed tracking of drivers enhances passenger safety.